This event said more about the journey this country has been on regarding gay issues, than any other indicator so far in our recent history.
Covering the Democratic ‘debate’ – really more of a forum – over gay issues was a surreal experience.
The site of the debate was a tucked away production studio in Hollywood, just blocks from one of the higher-tier, higher-profile studio lots – the former Columbia Studios lot now called Sunset Gower Studios. But this debate was not being held there.
Instead, scores of media trucks representing national and local outlets, and its corresponding throng of producers, production crew and reporters, (not to mention nervous and unfriendly-looking Secret Service agents) were crammed inside a small one-story building that looked more like a dingy warehouse with walls. (See the studio building)
In all fairness, most studio soundstages look like that – but usually with more space.
(Interesting sidenote: there was still far fewer media present at the debate than at the Oscars, Emmys or Grammys – all of which I’ve covered.)
The location was just part of this bizarre, singular, and historic political event.
The audience lining up outside the building waiting to get in comprised of gay activists, their friends, and other well-connected members of the gay community. Sprinkled in with them were D-list (and below) gay celebrities, this is Hollywood after all.
Strangely, the secret service did not permit news crews to bring their own cameras past the metal detectors and into the production studio. Of course, since I was there to produce a multimedia report – an audio slideshow with photos – not having my photo camera with me would make it impossible to do my job.
So I decided to leave the site of the debate and cover the story another way.
Within one mile of each other in West Hollywood – which is, in fact, just west of Hollywood – there were four different high-profile debate viewing parties taking place. Three were fundraisers for candidates – Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards. The fourth party was put on by the debate’s sponsors – the gay cable channel Logo and the gay political organization Human Rights Campaign.
Since the fourth event was not for any one particular candidate, I decided to go to that party, and watch gay voters watch the debate and get their reactions. This seemed to me the most interesting sidestory I could think of, since what happened at the debate itself would be covered by all the other media outlets.
Here’s the most surreal part of the story: a group of men and women who are normally at the margins of political discourse were gathered around television screens, watching major candidates for president discuss in detail issues directly concerning them. This event said more about the journey this country has been on regarding gay issues, than any other indicator so far in our recent history.
Please take a look at the finished result of my day’s reporting – “Courting the Gay Vote.